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8 things we can learn from Gilbert Melendez signing with Bellator

8 things we can learn from Gilbert Melendez signing with Bellator

Now that I’m single, especially on Valentine’s Day, I have an abundant amount of time to write pseudo-analytical pieces on MMA while taking occasional breaks to spy on my neighbors. Whenever you guys see an article from me after 3:00 am, it’s solely due to being up late trying to listen in on what my adjacent-door neighbors are up to. From what I can discern in the weeks of my half-assed surveillance, they’re either working in conjunction with Dr. Wily to recreate a life-sized Bubble Man to terrorize Beverly Hills, or they’ve just stumbled upon a surplus of the greatest hybrid marijuana Southern California has seen in the past decade.

Earlier today Bellator announced the promotion has entered into a deal with former (current?) UFC lightweight animal Gilbert Melendez, a deal contingent only if the UFC denies to match Bellator’s offer. Naturally this sparked more than a few ‘OMG’ and ‘WTFs?!’ all across the interwebs. Before you develop your opinion on the ordeal and drunkenly tell your MMA buds over the weekend, perhaps you should check out this list of what I believe are eight things we can learn from Gilbert Melendez signing with Bellator.

8.) Gilbert Melendez is a genius negotiator

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Hey guys. As soon as I was a free agent, I had my team call Bellator, and Bjorn made an amazing offer that would allow me to reach my goals.</p>&mdash; Gilbert Melendez (@GilbertMelendez) <a href=”https://twitter.com/GilbertMelendez/statuses/434476070499131392″>February 14, 2014</a></blockquote><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>If the UFC wants me they have the right to match. Ill let the fans know more as soon as it&#39;s settled.</p>&mdash; Gilbert Melendez (@GilbertMelendez) <a href=”https://twitter.com/GilbertMelendez/statuses/434477036640301056″>February 14, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The phrase ‘Win/Win’ gets thrown around a lot in MMA, especially when one option is clearly a gargantuan loss. Some people said that Fedor getting atomic dropped on his head by Kevin Randleman was a ‘win/win’ for The Last Emperor because it showed: 1.) How impossible to defeat he was in Pride FC 2.) Created one of the most memorable moments in MMA history. Sure that’s great, until people realize that regardless of those two scenarios, it still does not negate the fact that Fedor was friggin’ slammed directly on his head. Fedor probably cleared every Aspirin bottle in Stary Oskol, Russia that month.

For Gilbert Melendez however, it is truly a win/win. When the UFC purchased Strikeforce, Melendez’s contract rolled over into the UFC which meant he was getting pretty decent six-figure paydays per fight. Naturally the UFC wanted to pay less, which forced this entire contractual dispute. Melendez has an offer he feels comfortable with in Bellator and he still has a chance to fight two 155 lbers that are top five in the world — or he could go back to UFC for more of what he wanted from Bellator and still have a chance to fight at least two 155 lbers that are top five in the world.

7.) The entire Cesar Gracie camp are genius negotiators

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>The Cesar Gracie team = savviest in MMA. Nick leveraged boxing, Shields leveraged Strikeforce, Gil leverages Bellator. Title shots for all.</p>&mdash; RJ Clifford (@RJcliffordMMA) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RJcliffordMMA/statuses/434488636898541568″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
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This isn’t some one-time phenomenon with Melendez getting the upper hand on UFC and Strikeforce. Those Cesar Gracie guys have been doing it for years. Remember when Nick was toying around with the idea of leaving MMA for boxing until Scott Coker placed a large sum of cash directly in his vicinity? What about when Jake Shields was trying to get more cash from Strikeforce and even appeared at the WEC Aldo vs. Faber event with Dana White? Oh, and what did they get for their crafty behavior? Title shots. All of them.

6.) Unfortunately the UFC will probably not match Gilbert’s contract offer

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Can&#39;t remember UFC matching a contract offer. Only guy they ever missed was Arlovski and didn&#39;t match his offer in 2008.</p>&mdash; FrontRowBrian (@FrontRowBrian) <a href=”https://twitter.com/FrontRowBrian/statuses/434476231208095745″>February 14, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The last time the UFC bowed to a promotion, it was Pride FC and they eventually bought them out, cherry picked their fighters, and let the entire promotion collapse in the ultimate ‘F You’ to the former owners. In the promotion’s ZUFFA history, there has never been a time when the UFC has matched a contract from any competing organization. The general consensus is once you’re trying to get a better offer out of the UFC by using a second party, you’re out the door — and usually forever.

5.) The MMA world’s perception of Bellator just shifted dramatically

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Crazy to see how fast perception changes in MMA. Bellator &quot;sucked&quot; at the end of their last season. Now they&#39;re heroes.</p>&mdash; CagePotato.com (@cagepotatomma) <a href=”https://twitter.com/cagepotatomma/statuses/434486060132073472″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
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This time last year everyone wanted to throw Bjorn Rebney in The Bog of Eternal Stench when it was revealed that he refused to let go of Eddie Alvarez in hopes that he would stay with Bellator. Alvarez missed out on a potential seven-figure payday from the UFC because of it, and there was nearly a boycott of Spike TV (MMA fans are ravenous — if Jesus came back to Earth, MMA fans would just kill him again).

Now in 2014 with Bellator signing Gilbert Melendez, everyone sees Bellator as a safe haven for fighters that are essentially disgruntled workers of the colossal corporate machine known as UFC. People are actually rooting for Bellator to succeed. Imagine that.

4.) Are we seeing the rise of Bellator?

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Makes you wonder where <a href=”https://twitter.com/BellatorMMA”>@BellatorMMA</a> is going to be a year from now…</p>&mdash; Nick Robertson (@Shamownage) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Shamownage/statuses/434488413928976384″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Great question. No one thought Bellator would still be in the MMA scene by the end of 2011 — but here they are, well into their triple-digit events and they’re starting to build some recognizable talent and acquiring established fighters. Could 2014 be the year Bellator shifts the MMA landscape in their favor? No idea — but Spike TV really should just go with the science show that I pitched to them a few weeks ago. Now work on that, Viacom execs. You heard me.

3.) Bellator is aggressively going after free agents

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-conversation=”none” lang=”en”><p><a href=”https://twitter.com/SBNLukeThomas”>@SBNLukeThomas</a> Best thing to happen for UFC fighters is Bellator aggressively going after free agents.</p>&mdash; Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) <a href=”https://twitter.com/davemeltzerWON/statuses/434481862400950272″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
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We’re not sure what came first: Gilbert Melendez openly talking about how disappointed he was in his UFC contract negotiations or Bellator swooping down and offering him a deal. Both events happened rather simultaneously, which just goes to show that Bellator is interested in acquiring talent by any means necessary, and their free agent game is strong right now. We’re talking about Patrick Ewing vs. Dikembe Mutumbo in the paint strong.

2.) Now is the perfect time to get rid of the tournament format

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p><a href=”https://twitter.com/jeremybotter”>@jeremybotter</a> 1. STOP WITH THE TOURNAMENTS!!!!!! 2. SERIOUSLY, STOP WITH THE F&#39;IN TOUNRMENTS!! 3. i like pizza.</p>&mdash; E. Casey Leydon (@ekc) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ekc/statuses/434490942406393856″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Hey guys, we all know Gilbert Melendez isn’t signing with Bellator to take place in a friggin’ lightweight tournament, so let’s stop kidding ourselves. Bellator tournament participants get $7,000 a fight, and a hope at getting $100,000 if they win their next three fights. While $7,000 a fight is pretty standard for lower-middle-tier professional MMA fighters across the planet, the same will simply not apply to Gilbert Melendez. In the scientific world, if one law does not apply to everything, then it’s thrown out completely and disregarded. Bellator should apply that same principle to their tournament format and dispose of it immediately. While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the concept of ‘seasons.’

MMA is not Project Runway.

1.) If Melendez is let go, the UFC doesn’t care about the best fighting the best

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Letting Melendez go to Bellator means the UFC doesn&#39;t care about the best fighting the best.</p>&mdash; CagePotato.com (@cagepotatomma) <a href=”https://twitter.com/cagepotatomma/statuses/434477943067512833″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Not saying Melendez is No. 1 at LW, but he&#39;s among the best. If Bellator lands him, it will alter the landscape in a significant way.</p>&mdash; Jeff Wagenheim SI (@jeffwagenheim) <a href=”https://twitter.com/jeffwagenheim/statuses/434492810268782592″>February 15, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The MMA world should have questioned if the UFC was truly concerned with the best fighting the best when in 2008 (and all the way up until 2011) the UFC simply could not sign the greatest in the world, Fedor Emelianenko. Sure M-1 had a lot of knucklehead demands, but there was an extraordinary amount of ego from the UFC’s part that prevented the GOAT from proving that he was truly the GOAT.

He would have Fujita’d Brock Lesnar, if you’re still wondering.

Last year we also saw an indicator that perhaps entertainment reigns over talent in the UFC when the promotion refused to sign Ben Askren, a guy that has dominated every opponent he’s faced (although Jay Hieron may have umbrage with that) in the welterweight division. Now in February 2014, we see relatively the same thing with Gilbert Melendez packing up his stuff and moving to Bellator. El Nino is a top-five lightweight, and he has been since he ruled the mountain in Strikeforce. With Gil erased from the UFC 155 lb division, it will leave a void in the promotion — but more importantly it will leave a giant question mark in this current era of MMA history.

Bonus: Oh, and we can finally see the EA Sports MMA prophecy fulfilled: Gilbert Melendez vs. Eddie Alvarez

But really we already saw Gilbert Melendez defeat Eddie Alvarez, and he was five shots of tequila in when he did it.

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